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What benefits are available for the care of Veterans and their widows?

The Veterans Administration offers a special pension program for needy war veterans and their widows, which is increased for Veterans or widows who are confined to a nursing home, and need the “Aid and Attendance” of others to perform the activities of daily living.

What is Aid and Attendance?

The Aid and Attendance benefit is available when the Veteran (or the Veteran’s widow) is “permanently and totally disabled,” and living in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility, or requiring in-home nursing care.  A certification from a medical doctor is required, showing that the Veteran (or widow) needs assistance with at least two activities of daily living.

How much is available for Veterans and their widows?

The maximum monthly pension with Aid and Attendance is as follows:

Single Veteran:
Married Veteran (Veteran needing aid and attendance):
Surviving Spouse of deceased veteran:
$1,788
$2,120
$1,149

What are the requirements to qualify for a VA pension?

To be eligible, the Veteran must have served 90 days or more of active military service, with at least one of those days during a period of war. Veterans who entered active duty on or after September 8, 1980, or officers who entered active duty on or after October 16, 1981, may have to meet a longer minimum period of active duty.  The Veteran’s discharge must have been under conditions other than dishonorable. 

Are there any income or net worth limits to receiving the benefit?

The VA pension program was designed to assist Veterans or widows with low incomes and net worth in meeting their basic living and medical needs.  It is not available to Veterans or widows whom VA feels have sufficient income and net worth to pay their own living and medical expenses.

When applying for the benefit, how is my income calculated?

When considering income, VA reduces the income of the Veteran or widow on a dollar-for-dollar basis for unreimbursed medical expenses, which may include the ongoing cost of living in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility.  Note, room and board at a retirement or independent living community is generally not considered an unreimbursed medical expense.

What options are available if my net worth is too high?

Currently, there are a few options for reducing excess assets, such as transferring them into an irrevocable or family trust, or purchasing a single premium immediate annuity which meets certain criteria established by VA.  At the present time, there is no look-back penalty period for transferring assets before applying for VA pension benefits.

What if I am qualified for Medicaid?

If the Veteran or widow is in a skilled nursing facility and Medicaid is paying the nursing home, the maximum VA pension is reduced to $90 per month.


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